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ability that " Matthew's" version of the sermon is historically accu-
rate than there is that Luke's version is so ; and they can not both be
accurate.

" Luke" either knew the collection of loosely connected and aphor-
istic utterances which appear under the name of the " Sermon on the
Mount" in " Matthew," or he did not. If he did not, he must have
been ignorant of the existence of such a document as our canonical
" Matthew," a fact which does not make for the genuineness or the
authority of that book. If he did, he has shown that he does not
care for its authority on a matter of fact of no small importance ; and
that does not permit us to conceive that he believed the first Gospel

52



CHRISTIANITY AND AGNOSTICISM. 387

to be the work of an authority to whom he ought to defer, let alone
that of an apostolic eye-witness.

The tradition of the Church about the second Gospel, which I
believe to be quite worthless, but which is all the evidence there is for
" Mark's" authorship, would have us believe that " Mark" was little
more than the mouth-piece of the apostle Peter. Consequently, we
are to suppose that Peter either did not know, or did not care very
much for, that account of the "esssential belief and cardinal teach-
ing" of Jesus which is contained in the Sermon on the Mount ; and,
certainly, he could not have shared Dr. Wace's view of its import-
ance.*

I thought that all fairly attentive and intelligent students of the
Gospels, to say nothing of theologians of reputation, knew these
things. But how can any one who does know them have the con-
science to ask whether there is " any reasonable doubt" that the Ser-
mon on the Mount was preached by Jesus of Nazareth ? If conjec-
ture is permissible, where nothing else is possible, the most probable
conjecture seems to be that "Matthew," having a cento of sayings
attributed - rightly or wrongly it is impossible to say to Jesus,
among his materials, thought they were, or might be, records of a
continuous discourse, and put them in at the place he thought like-
liest. Ancient historians of the highest character saw no harm in com-
posing long speeches which never were spoken, and putting ihem into
the mouths of statesmen and warriors; and I presume that whoever is
represented by "Matthew" would have been greviously astonished to
find that any one objected to his following the example of the best
models accessible to him.

So with the "Lord's Prayer." Absent in our representative of the
oldest tradition, it appears in both "Matthew" and "Luke." There
is reason to believe that every pious Jew, at the commencement of our
era, prayed three times a day, according to a formula which is embod-
ied in the present Schmone-Esre\ of the Jewish prayer-book. Jesus,
who was assuredly in all respects, a pious Jew, whatever else he may
have been, doubtless did the same. Whether he modified the current
formula, or whether the so-called "Lord's Prayer" is the prayer sub-
stituted for the Schmone-Esre in the congregations of the Gentiles,
who knew nothing of the Jewish practice, is a question which can
hardly be answered.

In a subsequent passage of Dr. Wace's article J he adds to the list of
verities which he imagines to be unassailable, " The story of the Pas-
sion." I am not quite sure what he means by this I am not aware
that anyone (with the exception of certain ancient heretics) has pro-
pounded doubts as to the reality of the crucifixion ; and certainly I
have no inclination to argue about the precise accuracy of every detail
of that pathetic story of suffering and wrong. But, if Dr. Wace
means, as I suppose he does, that that which, according to the ortho-
dox view, happened after the crucifixion, and which is, in a dogmatic

*Holtzmann (" Diesynoptipchen Evangelien," 1663. p 75), following Ewald, argue? that the
"Source A" (the threefold tradition, more or less) contained something that answered to the
"Sermon on the Plain" immediately after the words of our present Mark, "And he con eth into a
house" (iii. 19). Bnt what conceivable motive could "Mark" have for omitting it? Holtzmann
has no doubt, howevtr. :hat the "Sermon on the Mount" is a compilation, or, as he calls it in hi*
recently published "Lehrbuch"(p. 37:2), "an artificial mosaic work."

tSee Schiirer, "Qeechichte dea judischen Volkea," Zweiter Theil, p. 384.

JPage .
53



3 88 BEACON LIGHTS OF SCIENCE.

sense, the most important part of the story, is founded on solid his-
torical proofs, I must beg leave to express a diametrically opposite
conviction.

What do we find when the accounts of the events in question, con-
tained in the three synoptic Gospels, are compared together ? In the
oldest, there is a simple, straightforward statement which, for any-
thing that I have to urge to the contrary, may be exactly true. In
the other two, there is, round this possible and probable nucleus, a
mass of accretions of the most questionable character.

The cruelty of death by crucifixion depended very mueh upon its
lingering character. If there were a support for the weight of the
body, as not unfrequently was the case, the pain during the first hours
of the infliction was not, necessarily, extreme ; nor need any serious
physical symptoms at once arise from the wounds made by the nails
in 1 he hands and feet, supposing they were nailed, which was not
invariably the case. When exhaustion set in, and hunger, thirst, and
nervous irritation had done their work, the agony of the sufferer
must have been terrible; and the more terrible that, in the absence of
any effectual disturbance of the machinery of physical life, it might
be prolonged for many hours or even days. Temperate, strong men,
such as the ordinary Galilean peasants were, might live for several
days on the cross. It is necessary to bear these facts in mind when we
read the account contained in the fifteenth chapter of the second Gos-
pel.

Jesus was crucified at the third hour(xv, 25), andthe narrative seeuu=
to imply that he died immediately after the ninth hour (v. 34). In
this case he would have been crucified only six hours; and the time
spent on the cross can not have been much longer, because Joseph of
Arimathea must have gone to Pilate, made his preparations, and
deposited the body in the rock-cut tomb before sunrise, which, at that
time of the year was about the twelfth hour. That any one should die
after only six hours' crucifixion could not have been at all in aocord-
ance with Pilate's large experience in the effects of that method of
punishment. It, therefore quite agrees with what might be expected
if Pilate "marveled if he were already dead," and required to be satis-
fied on this point by the testimony of the Roman officer who was in
command of the execution party. Those who paid attention to the
extraordinarily difficult question, What are the indisputable signs of
death ? will be able to estimate the value of the opinion of a rough
soldier on such a subject ; even if his report to the procurator were in
no wise affected by the fact that the friend of Jesus, who anxiously
awaited his answer, was a man of influence and of wealth.

The inanimate body, wrapped in linen, was deposited in a spacious,*
cool, rock chamber, the entrance of which was closed, not by a well-
fitting door, but by a stone rolled against the opening, which would
of course allow free passage of air. A little more than thirty-six
hours afterward (Friday 6 P. M., to Sunday 6 A. M., or a little after)
three women visit the tomb and find it empty. And they are told by
a young man " arrayed in a white robe" that Jesus has gone to his
native country of Galilee, and that the disciples and Peter will find
him there.

Spacious, because a young man could sit in it " on the right aide 1 ' (XT, 5), and therefore with
plenty of room to spare.

54



CHRISTIANITY AND AGNOSTICISM. 389

Thns it stands, plainly recorded, in the oldest tradition that, for
any evidence to the contrary, the sepulchre might have been vacated
at any time during the Friday or Saturday nights. If it is said tnat
no Jew would have violated the Sabbath by taking the former course,
it is to be recollected that Joseph of Arimathea might well be familiar
with that wise and liberal interpretation of the fourth command-
ment, which permitted works of mercy to men nay even the drawing
of an ox or an ass out of a pit on the Sabbath. At any rate, the
Saturday night was free to the most scrupulous observers of the law.

These are the facts of the case as stated by the oldest extant narra-
tive of them. I do not see why any one should have a word to say
against the inherent probability of that narrative ; and, for my part,
I am quite ready to accept it as an historical fact, that so much and
no more is positively known of the end of Jesus of Nazareth. On
what grounds can a reasonable man be asked to believe any more?
So far as the narrative in the first Gospel, on the one hand, and those
in the third Gospel and the Acts, on the other go beyond what is
stated in the second Gospel, they are hopelessly discrepant with one
another. And this is the more significant because the pregnarc
phrase " some doubted," in the first Gospel, is ignored in the third

But it is said that we have the witness Paul speaking to us directly
in the Epistles. There is little doubt that we have, and a very singu-
lar witness he is. According to his own showing, Paul, in the vigor
of his manhood, with every means of becoming acquainted, at first
hand, with the evidence of eye-witnesses, not merely refused to credit
them, but "persecuted the church of God and made havoc of it."
The reasoning of Stephen fell dead upon the acute intellect of this
zealot for the traditions of his fathers: his eyes were blind to the
ecstatic illumination of the martyr's countenance "as it had been the
face of an angel"; and when, at the words " Behold, I see the heavens
opened and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God," the
murderous mob rushed upon and stoned the rapt disciple of Jesus,
Paul ostentatiously made himself their official accomplice.

Yet this strange man, because he has a vision one day, at once, and
with equally headlong zeal, flies to the opposite pole of opinion. And
he is most careful to tell us that he abstained from any re-examina-
tion of the facts.

Immediately I conferred not with fleeh and blood ; neither went I np to Jerusalem to them
which were apostles belore me ; but I went away into Arabia. (Galations i, 16, 17.)

I do not presume to quarrel with Paul's procedure. If it satisfied
him, that was his affair; and, if it satisfies any one else, I am not
called upon to dispute the right of that person to be satisfied. But I
certainly have the right to say that it would not satisfy me in like
case ; that I should be very much ashamed to pretend that it could,
or ought to, satisfy me ; and that I can entertain but a very low esti-
mate of the value of the evidence of people who are to be satisfied in
this fashion, when questions of objective fact, in which their faith is
interested, are concerned. So that, when I am called upon to believe
a great deal more limn the oldest Gospel tells me about the finalevents
of the history of Jesus ou the authority of Pan! (1 Corinthians xv, 5-8),
I must pause. Did he think it, at any subsequent time, worth while
"to confer with flesh and blood," or, in modern phrase, to re-examine
the facts for himself? or was he ready to accept anything that fitted
in with his preconceived ideas? Does ho mean, when he speaks of

H



390 BEACON LIGHTS OF SCIENCE.

all the appearances of Jesus after the crucifixion as if they were of the
same kind, that they were all visions, like the manifestation to him-
self? And, finally, how is this account to be reconciled with those
in the first and the third Gospels which, as we have seen, disagree
with one another ?

Until these questions are satisfactorily answered, I am afraid that,
so far as I am concerned, Paul's testimony can not be seriously
regarded, except as it may afford evidence of the state of traditional
opinion at the time at which he wrote, say between 55 and 60 A. D.;
that is, more than twenty years after the event ; a period much more
than sufficient for the development of any amount of mythology about
matters of which nothing was really known. A few years later, among
the contemporaries and neighbors of the Jews, and if the most prob-
able interpretation of the Apocalypse can be trusted, among the fol-
lowers of Jesus also, it was fully believed, in spite of all evidence to
the contrary, that the Emperor Nero was not really dead, but that he
was hidden away somewhere in the East, and would speedily come
again at the head of a great army, to be revenged upon his enemies.

Thus, I conceive that I have shown cause for the opinion that Dr.
Wace's challenge touching the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord's
Prayer, and the Passion, was more valorous than discreet. After all
this discussion I am still at the agnostic point. Tell me, first, what
Jesus can be proved to have been, said, and done, and I will tell you
whether I believe him, or in him,* or not! As Dr. Wace admits that
I have dissipated his lingering shade of unbelief about the bedevilment
of the Gadarene pigs, he might have done something to help mine.
Instead of that, he manifests a total want of conception of the nature
of the obstacles which impede the conversion of his *' infidels."

The truth I believe to be, that the difficulties in the way of arriv-
ing at a sure conclusion as to these matters, from the Sermon on the
Mount, the Lord's Prayer, or any other data offered by the synoptic
Gospels (and a fortiori from the fourth Gospel) are insuperable.
Every one of these records is colored by the prepossessions of those
among whom the primitive traditions arose and of those by whom
they were collected and edited; and the difficulty of making allow-
ance for these prepossessions is enhanced by our ignorance of the exact
dates at which the documents were first put together; of the extent to
which they have been subsequently worked over and interpolated;
and of the historical sense, or want of sense, and the dogmatic tenden-
cies, of their compilers and editors. Let us see if there is any other
road which will take us into something better than negation.

There is a wide-spread notion that the " primitive Church," while
under the guidance of the apostles and their immediate successors,
was a sort of dogmatic dove-cote, pervaded by the most loving unity
and doctrinal harmony. Protestants, especially, are fond of attribut-
ing to themselves the merit of being nearer "the Church of the
apostles " than their neighbors; and they are the less to be excused
for their strange delusion because they are great readers of the docu-
ments which prove the exact contrary. The fact is that, in the course
of the first three centuries of its existence, the Church rapidly under-

*I am very sorry for the Interpolated "in," because citation ought to be accurate in small
things as in great. But what difference it makes whether one "believes Jesus" or "believes in
Jesus ' much thought has not enabled me to discover. If you "believe him" yon must believe
him to b what he professed to be that is, "believe in him"; and if you "Wieve in him" you
must necessarily '-believe him."



CHRISTIANITY AND AGNOSTICISM. 391

went a process of evolution of the most remarkable character, the final
stage of which is far more different from the first than Anglicanism is
from Quakerism. The key to the comprehension of the problem of
the origin of what is now called " Christianity," and its relation
to Jesus of Nazareth, lies here. Nor can we arrive at any sound con-
clusion as to what it is probable that Jesus actually said and did with-
out being clear on this head. By far the most important and subse-
quently influential steps in the evolution of Christianity took place in
the course of the century, more or less, which followed upon the cru-
cifixion. It is almost the darkest period of Church history, but, most
fortunately, the beginning and the end of the period are brightly
illuminated by the contemporary evidence of two writers of whose
historical existence there is no doubt,* and against the genuineness of
whose most important works there is no widely admitted objection.
These are Justin, the philosopher and martyr, and Paul, the Apostle
to the Gentiles. I shall call upon these witnesses only to testify to
the condition of opinion among those who called themselves disciples
of Jesus in their time.

Justin, in his dialogue with Trypho the Jew, which was written
somewhere about the middle of the second century, enumerates certain
categories of persons who, in his opinion, will, or will not, be saved, f
These are:

1. Orthodox Jews who refuse to believe that Jesus is the Christ.
Not saved.

2. Jews who observe the law; believe Jesus to be the Christ; but
who insist on the observance of the law by Gentile converts. Not
saved.

3. Jews who observe the law ; believe Jesus to be the Christ, and
hold that Gentile converts need not observe the law. Saved (in Jus-
tin's opinion; but some of his fellow-Christians think the contrary).

4. Gentile converts to the belief in Jesus as the Christ, who observe
the law. Saved (possibly).

5. Gentile believers in Jesus as the Christ, who do not observe the
law themselves (except so far as the refusal of idol sacrifices), but do
not consider those who do observe it heretics. Saved (this is Justin's
own view).

6. Gentile believers who do not observe the law except in refusing
idol sacrifices, and hold those who do observe it to be heretics.
Saved.

7. Gentiles who believe Jesus to be the Christ and call themselves
Christians, but who eat meats sacrificed to idols. Not saved.

8. Gentiles who disbelieve in Jesus as the Christ. Not saved.
Justin does not consider Christians who believe in the natural birth

of Jesus, of whom he implies that there is a respectable minority, to
be heretics, though he himself strongly holds the preternatural birth
of Jesus and his pre-existeuce as the " Logos" or " Word." He con-
ceives the Logos to be a second God, inferior to the first, unknowable,
God, with respect to whom Justin, like Philo, is a complete agnostic.
The Holy Spirit is not regarded by Justin as a separate personality,
and is often mixed up with the " Logos." The doctrine ot the nat-

* True for Justin ; but there is a school of theological critics, who more or less question the his-
torical reality of Paul and the genuineness of even the four cardinal epistles.

t See "Dial, cum Tryphone," sections 47 and 35. It is to be understood that Justin does not
arrange these categories in order as I have done.

57



393 BEACON LIGHTS OF SCIENCE.

ural immortality of the soul is, for Justin, a heresy; and he is as firm
a believer in the resurrection of the body as in the speedy second com-
ing and the establishment of the millennium.

This pillar of the Church in the middle of the second century a
much-traveled native of Samaria was certainly well acquainted with
Rome, probably with Alexandria, and it is likely that he knew the
state of opinion throughout the length and breadth of the Christian
world as well as any man of his time. If the various categories above
enumerated are arranged in a series thus
Justin's Christianity.

Orthodox Judceo- Christianity. Idolothytic

Judaism. , * \ Christianity. Paganism.

I II III IV V VI VII VIII

it is obvious that they form a gradational series from orthodox Juda-
ism, on the extreme left, to paganism, whether philosophic or popular,
on the extreme right; and it will further be observed that, while
Justin's conception of Christianity is very broad, he rigorously
excludes two classes of persons who, in his time, called themselves
Christians; namely, those who insist on circumcision and other
observances of the law on the part of Gentile converts; that is to say,
the strict Judaeo-Christians (II), and on the other hand, those who
assert the lawfulness of eating meat offered to idols whether they are
gnostics or not (VII). These last I have called " idolothytic" Chris-
tians, because I can not devise a better name, not because it is strictly
defensible etymologically.

At the present moment I do not suppose there is an English mis-
sionary in any heathen land who would trouble himself whether the
materials of his dinner had been previously offered to idols or not
On the other hand, I suppose there is no Protestant sect within the
pale of orthodoxy, to say nothing of the Roman and Greek Churches,
which would hesitate to declare the practice of circumcision and the
observance of the Jewish Sabbath and dietary rules, shockingly heret-
ical.

Modern Christianity has, in fact, not only shifted far to the right of
Justin's position, but it is of much narrower compass.

Justin.



Judceo-Christianity. Modern Christirnity. Paganism.

Judaism. , * * , * > I

I II III IV V VI VII VIII

For, though it includes VII, and even, in saint and relic worship, cuts
a "monstrous cantle" out of paganism, it excludes, not only all
Judaeo-Christians, but all who doubt that such are heretics. Ever
since the thirteenth century, the Inquisition would have cheerfully
burned, and in Spain did abundantly burn, all persons who came
under the categories II, III, IV, V. And the wolf would play the
same havoc now if it could only get its blood-stained jaws free from
the muzzle imposed by the secular arm.

Further, there is not a Protestant body except the Unitarian, which
would not declare Justin himself a heretic, on account of his doctrine
of the inferior godship of the Logos ; while I am very much afraid
that, in strict logic, Dr. Wace would be under the necessity, so painful
to him, of calling him an "infidel," on the same and on other
grounds.



CHRISTIANITY AND AGNOSTICISM. 393

Now let us turn to our other authority. If there is any result of
critical investigations of the sources of Christianity which is certain,*
it is that Paul of Tarsus wrote the Epistle to the Galatians some-
where between the years 55 and 60 A. D., that is to say, roughly,
twenty, or five.and-twenty, years after the crucifixion. If this is so,
the Epistle to the Galatians is one of the oldest, of extant documen-
tary evidences of the state of the primitive Church. And, be it
observed, if it is Paul's writing, it unquestionably furnishes us with
the evidence of a participator in the transactions narrated. With the
exception of two or three of the other Pauline epistles, there is not
one solitary book in the New Testament of the authorship and author-
ity of which we have such good evidence.

And what is the state of things we find disclosed? A bitter quar-
rel, in his account of which Paul by no means minces matters or
hesitates to hurl defiant sarcasms against those who were " reputed to
be pillars": James, "the brother of the Lord," Peter, the rock on
whom Jesus is said to have built his Church, and John, " the beloved
disciple." And no deference toward " the rock " withholds Paul from
charging Peter to his face with " dissimulation."

The subject of the hot dispute was simply this : Were Gentile con-
verts bound to obey the law or not? Paul answered in the negative ;
and, acting upon his opinion, had created at Antioch (and elsewhere)
a specifically " Christian " community, the sole qualifications for
admission into which were the confession of the belief that Jesus was
the Messiah, and baptism upon that confession. In the epistle in
question, Paul puts this his "gospel," as he calls it in its most
extreme form. Not only does he deny the necessity of conformity
with the law, but he declares such conformity to have a negative
value. " Behold, I, Paul, say unto you, that if ye receive circumcis-
ion, Christ will profit you nothing" (Galatians v, 2). He calls the
legal observances " beggarly rudiments," and anathematizes every one
who preaches to the Galatians any other gospel than his own that is
to say, by direct consequence, he anathematizes the Jerusalem Naza-
renes whose zeal for the law is testified by James in a passage of the
Acts cited further on. In the first Epistle to the Corinthians, dealing
with the question of eating meat offered to idols, it is clear that Paul
himself thinks it a matter of indifference; but he advises that it
should not be done, for the sake of the weaker brethren. On the
other hand, the Nazarenes of Jerusalem most strenuously opposed
Paul's "gospel," insisting on every convert becoming a regular Jewish
proselyte, and consequently on his observance of the whole law; and



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